41) It is given to understand from numerous references in the Qur’an
that Muhammad () had himself committed a number of sins.
How can this be so ?

This has been the claim of the missionaries who have laboured
to assert the Christian contention that all men are sinners. By way of
quoting certain verses of the Qur’an completely out of context, they
claim that Muhammad () had, indeed, been a sinner and it was
Jesus Christ alone who never sinned and that it is possible only for
Jesus Christ, who had himself never sinned, to save mankind from
their sins.
The Qur’an’s stand has been that all prophets, including Jesus
Christ, were of exemplary character and were men who never sinned.
But for the person who goes through the stories of the Bible, it become
apparent that Jesus Christ himself, like all the other prophets who had
preceded him, was a sinner and not a person to be taken as an exemplar.
If the making of wine – the cause of all strife, sorrow, anarchy and
poverty as Solomon had described it (Proverbs 23:21-32) – and the
providing of it to people constitute a sin it must be conceded that Jesusfeast in Caanan (John 2:1-10). If abusing and deriding one’s mother,
who had given birth to him and raised him to maturity, is a sin, then it
must be admitted that Jesus was a sinner. Can it be said that Jesus,
who is reported to have said to his mother, “Woman, why do you
involve me ?” was one who respected and revered ‘his mother?
(John 2:4). If addressing a community with usages like “Ye generation
of vipers!” is a sin, Jesus will again end up a sinner. If the destruction
of a harmless plant in a fit of uncontrolled personal anger, for a fault
that was not its own, is a sin then Christ becomes a sinner yet again.
For after all Christ is reported to have caused a fig tree to wither
away for no fault of its own. (Mathew 21:19). In reality, however,
even though Christ was never a sinner, the Bible actually tends to
make a sinner out of that great prophet.
In the life of Prophet Muhammad (), on the other hand, we
see nothing of this sort. History is witness to the fact that nobody, not
even his greatest antagonists, believed that he committed sins of any
kind. Indeed, the number of incidents which serve to show that even
the hardest opponents of Islam, like Abu Jahl, had recognized the
truthfulness and purity of Muhammad (), are legion. The statement
of Abu Sufyan, one of the chief antagonists of Islam, which he made
before Heraclius, the emperor of Rome, is but one amongst them.
Muhammad () is the one person who is to stand as the perfect
exemplar for all those who are to come up to the Last Day. The truth
of the matter, therefore, is that nobody can attribute a single sin to his
life. Nevertheless, the Holy Qur’an does correct him on more than
one occasion. The incidents wherein he disregarded the blind man and
in which he had demanded the disbelievers who had inflicted losses
upon him and his followers form a few of these occasions. These are
but lapses which, in an ordinary retrospection, would hardly appear to
be grievious sins. In the vision of the Qur’an, however, it is not befitting
for a prophet who is to enlighten humanity, to have even such minor
flaws in his character. The Qur’an teaches that such flaws in the
conduct of a messenger who is to be the role model for all those who
are to come up to the Last Day are, indeed, inappropriate and needs to
be corrected as well. In fact, if the Qur’an was to leave such lapses to
go uncorrected, it would necessarily mean that doing and saying likewise
would then be not incorrect at all. It has been, therefore, that the
Qur’an reprimanded the Prophet on every such occasion in the strongest
possible terms.
It has mainly been three verses of the Qur’an which are
misconstrued to show that Muhammad () had, indeed, been a sinner.
However, an impartial enquiry into the nature of these verses will reveal
the personality of the Prophet in an even more magnificent light.
1. “Verily We have granted thee a manifest Victory: that
God may forgive thee thy faults of the past and those to follow;
fulfil His favour to thee; and guide thee on the straight way;
and that God may help thee with powerful help.” (H.Q. 48:1-3)
Here, it is the Arabic term Danb that has been translated to
mean ‘fault’. This term does have the meanings of fault, crime, sin
and the like. The claim has gone to the effect that since the statement
“ ….. forgive thee thy faults of the past and those to follow …”
has been used with reference to Prophet Muhammad () himself,
even the Qur’an has affirmed that he did, indeed, commit sins.
Here, the faults which are said to have befallen the Prophet are
clear from the context of the revelation itself. These are the first verses
of a chapter that was revealed when the Prophet was halfway back
home after the treaty of Hudaibiya. There were certain conditions of
the treaty that gave the first-impression of defeat and surrender. It is
this treaty, however, which was referred to as a “manifest victory”
here. Moreover, within the span of a few years it became clear to the
companions of the Prophet that the treaty was, as the Qur’an had
foreseen it, a great and manifest victory, indeed. The treaty of Hudaibiya
was solemnized in the sixth year of the Hijra. It was the mistakes in
the propagation of the message which the Prophet had carried out for
the past nineteen years that were referred to here by the terms ‘faults’.
The errors mentioned in the foregoing section are a few among such
By the term ‘faults’ which appears in this verse is not meantany sin or crime that is of a punishable nature; it has only been errors
or failings that have proceeded from the natural limitations of a very
human kind. It has only been the errors due to the violations of an
etiquette so lofty of standards, as befitting the code of conduct of the
messengers of God, that has been intended here.
Here, there is an issue of particular significance. Going by the
claims of the critics it has been alleged that the Qur’an is the composition
of Muhammad (). In that case, will it not then give the impression
that he has, of himself, openly admitted, albeit through the Qur’an, that
he did, indeed, commit mistakes? How can this be explained away?
An individual is accepted by all, including his opponents, in society as
truthful and honest. Then he proceeds to admit that he has committed
mistakes in a book that he has apparently written himself for the
advancement of his own interests. How can this ever be sensible? It
is simply the fact that the Qur’an is not the composition of the Prophet
which is once again brought to the fore.
In reality, it is the Lord Creator Himself who declares that
Muahmmad () was at fault and for that he was forgiven. The Prophet
had, moreover hastened towards being as even more grateful person
to the Merciful One Who had so graciously forgiven his faults. Indeed,
it was asked of the Prophet who had so engaged himself in his nightly
prayers as to get his feet all swollen up: “Has not Allah forgiven thee
all thy sins of the past as well as the future?” Forthwith came the
Prophet’s response: “Should I not be a grateful servant then?”
2. “So be thou (O Muhammad) patient. Verily, the promise
of Allah is true. And be thou engaged in seeking forgiveness
for thy sins and in glorifying your Lord in the evenings and at
dawn” (Cf.Q )
3. “Know, therefore, that there is no god but God, and
ask forgiveness for thy fault, and for the men and woman who
believe: for God knows how ye move about and how ye dwell in
your homes.” (Cf.Q 47:19)
It is the duty of every believer to strive to the best of his, or her
capacity for the cause of the divine religion. In this aspect, too, his role
model is the Prophet. Indeed, a Muslim cannot be the one who says,
“I have tried to the best of my ability” and then withdraws. For it will
always be the anxiety that ‘I have not yet accomplished the task that
the Creator has entrusted to me’ which will be foremost in his mind.
While recognizing the very real possibility of his committing mistakes
he should ever go forward with the prayer, “Lord, forgive me the
failings to which I have succumbed while moving ahead in Thy cause”
always on his lips. This will be a demonstration of his deep sense of
humility. In this way any pride in his accomplishments can also be
done away with.
This is the implication of the statement “ask forgiveness for
thy fault” made to the Prophet. Even the Prophet himself, who had
laboured in the cause of God much more than anyone else, had no
right, whatsoever, to take pride in his own achievements. In the midst
of all his labour and toil in the cause of God; it was, nevertheless, his
lot to repent unto his Lord and to earnestly beseech His forgiveness.
Then what would be the condition of the others? These verses have
sought to teach humility. They do not at all mean that Muhammad
(pbuh) sinned. After all, this was why the Prophet said, “I seek
forgiveness from Allah one hundred times each day.” Nobody ever
said that this meant he committed one hundred sins every day.

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